Posts Tagged ‘Paul Ryan’

How Obama uses Paul Ryan

February 3, 2010

Like him or not, Paul Ryan is no dummy. There’s a reason the Wisconsin Republican has had such a quick ascent within the House GOP leadership. It appears that he has even become a subject of Obama’s new strategy to engage the Republicans (or at least to pretend to engage them).

Obama praised Ryan for having ideas at the retreat, contrasting him with Republicans who offered only talking points. But Obama also criticized Ryan, saying his plan would too strictly limit Medicare benefits.

Ryan proposes that the deficit be closed by shifting some seniors away from Medicare. He would have Americans 55 and younger be issued vouchers to buy private insurance approved  by Medicare instead of being placed in the Medicare system. when they grow older.  Those older than 55 would stay in Medicare.

Ryan is a movement conservative. He is a Buckley-reading son of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page. He is the idol of campus conservatives all across America. An intellectual in an anti-intellectual party. But there’s a reason Obama was comfortable highlighting his intellectualism. His ideas are radical, and they strike against the most sacred special interest in Washington: the elderly. Obama welcomes the opportunity to showcase Ryan’s alternatives because they are incompatible with American public opinion.

The perception that Obama’s health care plan would covertly starve Medicare to pay for increased Medicaid etc. is one of the most important barriers that Democrats need to address in order to win the health care debate. By so generously giving the floor to a Republican who is overtly anti-Medicare (relatively speaking), Obama can remind voters that it is in fact Democrats who wish to protect the elderly.

Tricky Paul Ryan

August 31, 2009

Paul Ryan making headlines at Wispolitics with some insight into the health care reform bill that even liberals are beginning to assume is dead:

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (left) predicted House Democrats would move forward with a health care bill including a public option that he said has a chance to pass despite concerns raised over summer recess about the bill.

“They can’t bring a bill to the floor that doesn’t have a public option because a majority of the Democratic caucus is dramatically in favor of a public option,” Ryan, R-Janesville, said on Sunday’s “UpFront with Mike Gousha.”

The key to getting enough votes is whether so called “blue-dog” Democrats will remain on board with the public plan, Ryan said.

But he predicted that House leaders may be able to get Dems in line similar to the way they did when cap and trade legislation looked to be short on votes before it ultimately won House passage.

“I think the odds are they’ll probably have the chance to pass this,” Ryan said. “This majority is very good at exercising discipline within its ranks and passing controversial legislation.”

He expressed skepticism about the health care cooperatives being talked about in the Senate, saying they are not like co-ops most people are familiar with and amount to a “public plan in everything but name only.”

Ryan also commented on the town hall meetings taking place, saying that they reflected concern not only about health care, but the growing role of the federal government overall.

While Ryan said he believes the public option would lead to rationing, he rejected the notion that the bill would create “death panels” and said exaggerations aren’t needed to fight the bill.

There are two ways to receive this supposedly frank analysis of health care reform (I sure hope it’s frank):

1. Paul Ryan is a reasonable, honest man who cares more about keeping his constituents updated with affairs than scoring political points for his party. House Republicans made a horrible blunder in allowing him to become the de facto head of the party’s health care opposition.

2. Paul Ryan is a shrewd politician who is wagering political capital on cool, condescending disapproval of the Democrats over angry, foot-stomping demagoguery. By admitting defeat he simultaneously accomplishes two goals: he appears moderate and honest and he very effectively communicates the danger of the Democratic majority.

As you can probably guess, I am a subscriber to the second theory. The same congressman who has been busy proposing radical right wing alternatives to virtually every major piece of legislation is not a moderate and he does believe in using whatever rhetoric necessary to convince the American people to embrace him over his opponents. Why else would his proposed health care bill be three pages long and not include any explanation of the costs? Paul Ryan may be smart enough to be a policy wonk, but he is not on Capitol Hill to be one. He is there to be a politician. He is there to be the next Newt Gingrich.

Many politicians are so confined to their talking points that the bullshit they spin comes out looking like bullshit to a large proportion of listeners. By slightly dressing up their bullshit, Ryan and his team come out sounding much more convincing, and moreover, their words get attention. Rather than go the normal route, “I believe the American people, once they see what is in this bill, will not allow their representatives to go ahead…” he plays the martyr card, much in the way of his political ancestor Dick Nixon, “You know I hate to say it but I gotta be honest with you…the good guys might not win this one.”

On the other end we got Tammy Baldwin playing the same game.

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin expressed confidence health care reform would pass, but said while she would have given passage 75 percent odds last month, she’s now down to 55 percent certainty.

“I’ve seen over the pass several weeks just how strenuous the opposition to change really is,” Baldwin, D-Madison, told UpFront. “There are stakeholders who profit mightily from what the status quo is and are resisting it at all odds.

“I do think we are going to prevail and pass legislation providing health care, high quality health care, for all Americans, but the road is going to be steep.”

I hope they’re both right.

Brunch Links

August 12, 2009

Good morning Sconz nation! I’m a little today and the next few days with moving. I’ll try to keep you updated though. It’s another beautiful day in the 80’s.

Uh oh, six businesses accused of violating Madison’s lobbying disclosure law. Hammes Co, which is developing the Edgewater, is one of them. They say it was an honest mistake.

People keep talking about Doyle’s legal adviser, who didn’t pass the state bar exam (she was from California). Why does this matter?

Where should the high-speed train from Milwaukee to Madison stop?

Paul Soglin: Paul Ryan is a goofball.

Madison poor getting left out of stimulus

July 17, 2009

Of all the grandstanding we hear from politicians about rescuing homeowners, including proposals from Rep. Paul Ryan to insure all mortgage holders, the nation seems to have forgotten the people who are not only too poor to own homes, but are often too poor to pay rent.

The impact can be seen in right here in Madison, where the city is being forced to dip into reserve funds to help low-income tenants because the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has cut funding for low-income housing assistance.

Because money from the feds has gone down, the city’s Community Development Authority was planning on simply reducing subsidies to tenants, which would have caused rent hikes for many residents. However, Ald. Michael Schumacher apparently found the idea unacceptable, and has now proposed an ordinance to allow the city to temporarily use money from the “Affordable Housing Trust Fund” to help low-income tenants through September. Ordinarily, the fund is meant to create more low-income housing, not to help pay the rent of already-existing units. However, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Schumacher calls it “appalling” that the federal government has cut the budget for affordable housing amid one of the largest spending sprees in history.

The greatest irony in this story is that the city has to get permission from the federal government if it wishes to cut some tenants off the rolls of subsidized housing, even though the feds are actually the source of the funding dilemma. Before Schumacher’s ordinance, the city was thinking of creating stricter standards for eligibility to make up for the lack of federal dollars. Currently low-income tenants living in housing worth up to 110% of the market average are eligible for rent assistance. The city was considering reducing the bar to 90%. Hopefully this new proposal will make that unnecessary.

Nevertheless, the problem illustrates how the federal government is as detached from the problems of the nation’s poor as it is during times of prosperity. The stimulus includes many of worthwhile investments in the future, including money for infrastructure development, as discussed in the post below. Increased spending on food stamps and unemployment payments have also accomplished the fundamental task of putting money into the pockets of people who will immediately put it back into the economy. Advocates like Russ Feingold have been behind these efforts and have tried to remind Washington that the first to get hit by this crisis are the country’s poor.

Low-income housing is more important than most people seem to realize. When people cannot afford housing where they work – where do they turn? Brenda Konkel has more.

Brunch Links

July 16, 2009

Dustin Christopher: Have you thanked a 911 dispatcher this week?

Paul Soglin: Paul Ryan is everything Sarah Palin isn’t: deceptive and dangerous.

State Journal Blog: State employee names cannot be protected – are subject to open records laws.

Milwaukee Rising: “A decision the other way would have set the terrible precedent of allowing laws to be changed silently and secretly, without public notice or debate, to satisfy whatever special interest can get their hooks into a willing legislator.”

La Crosse Tribune: However, arbitration records between teachers and school administrators can be kept secret, even if it involves porn.

Post Crescent: Van Hollen pursues animal cruelty case against men who ran down deer with snowmobiles.

Paul Ryan leads bumbling critique of Obamacare

June 24, 2009

Every time you hear Paul Ryan speak you’re reminded that there is a very slim chance that the man is genuinely interested in pursuing whatever goal he is discussing, and that there’s a very good chance that he’s  interested pursuing higher office. The most clear symptom would be his tendency to make contradictory statements, which is practically required of any American politician who gets beyond regional success.

Here is Ryan back in May on Obama’s health care plan:

“The way I see it it’s kind of like my daughter’s lemonade stand competing against McDonald’s. It’s having the referee, the government, also be a player in the same game, and actuarially speaking, it’s almost impossible to make that a fair game.”

Silly president, trying to compete with private insurers, what a waste of time and money! Now here’s Ryan’s most recent statement on his website:

“With the public plan, it is literally impossible for the private sector to fairly compete against it. The private sector has to pay taxes. The private sector has to account for its employees and benefits. The private sector pays whatever rates it negotiates with providers. The public plan dictates payments lower than what the private sector can get, doesn’t pay taxes, and literally doesn’t have to account for its payroll and benefit costs. It is a stacked deck.”

Poor insurance companies, the government’s playing on steroids!